Vancouver Birth Photographer – A Bundle of Thanksgiving
Birth stories are precious, no doubt. Unlike family stories of the everyday, they are extraordinary because it centres around a new life that has been introduced into this world. It is the beginning of the story of this little being, where he/she started as the first breath is taken.
In addition to documenting the moment to moment progress of a birth, photographic birth stories are also fragile. These photos hold the power to influence a mother’s memory of how she felt from labour to delivery, and the first hours of their redefined family.
With each birth I photograph, I wrestle with the power of each image and what it speaks to me and to the mother. Was she strong, was she brave, was she uncertain? Will this photo be a negative trigger, and therefore alter the way she feels about her birth and possibly how she enters future births? Will this photo make her feel weak because this outcome was not what she wanted? Will it empower her because of the physical and mental strength she brought to each contraction?
The more I explore these questions, the more I realize that I cannot find the answers because birth is not a positive or negative experience. It cannot be pigeon-holed because it is a collective experience of vulnerability and strength. There will always be micro moments of each end of the spectrum, and sometimes it requires the mother to be vulnerable and give in, in order to find strength to push through. My job as a birth photographer is to be present and honestly document the moments as they happen, without bias, preconception, or fear.
Last month at Thanksgiving, I was enroute to Seattle to teach at a photography conference, only to be turned away at the border for the wrong paperwork. The disappointment was loud and heavy, but when I got called into this homebirth, my experience there shifted my perspective. As I watched this mama catch her own baby with the guidance of only her doula and husband, I also realized – this birth is my mercy gift. Being here, witnessing the gift of new life, and the gift of instant love. Now, that noise has been silenced by the sound of a new breath taken as baby Cole met his enamoured parents.